Out of the Darkness into
Dr. Alan N. Keiran
Eastern Baptist Seminary
I graduated from Eastern Baptist Seminary on May 20, 1979, with Sally, my mother and dad, my brothers and sisters in attendance. David and Brian help us pack and load our belongings in a rented truck and drive with me from there to Northern, NY. I was ordained by Reverend Jagger at the First Baptist Church of Amherst on May 27th of that year. I was already commissioned as a Naval Reserve Chaplain and assigned to a Chaplains unit in Albany, New York about 30 miles from our small apartment in Saratoga Springs, NY.
My first church, Old Stone Church in West Milton, NY is a church-plant from the First Baptist Church of Ballston Spa, also an American Baptist Church. We with about 45 hardy souls. Most of the men were hunters, fishermen, snow mobile enthusiasts, and rugged souls who challenged me to split wood, and stretch a bit and love then as they were. It was hard at first, but January 1980 the Holy Spirit changed my whole perceptive on life and ministry.
In that frigid northern climate the Lord warmed my heart for my flock. I knew that I had a call to be a Navy Chaplain, but my denomination required 3 years of full time ministry. By mid-January I was burned out and ready to get out the ministry. Nothing I was doing in the church was working out. My Bible study that started with a dozen souls was down to me and my wife. I actually told the Lord that I’d rather go back to work in a grocery store than deal with the unbelievers in our church. My immaturity and self-pity had closed my heart to the needs of my flock. I felt like I was dying.
But God was on the move. I cried out to God for help and had amazing supernatural experience. That morning I was so low that I could barely make it through a day. I was in deep prayer with tears washing down my cheeks. I said to the Lord, “Father, I don’t know what to do. I have no idea how to be a pastor. Show me how to love these people and how to preach with power. I can’t do this without your help.
A minute later I felt the power of the Holy Spirit come over me and then I felt warm oil pouring over my head and glowing down my cheeks. An amazing power came over me and I was giddy with live for God and my flock! I was blasted by God’s Agape.
The next weekend I preached without notes and had so much power coming from me that some folks were shaken. The devil wasn’t happy about the new me! A few weeks later I was called to come to the senior deacon’s home. After a few minutes she said, “The main contributors of our church don’t like the way you are preaching. We can’t afford to lose them but we can afford to lose you!”
My reply may seem disrespectful, but I said, “I am preaching exactly what the Lord as asked me to preach. If you need to fire me I won’t harbor any malice against you or the board. But I will not compromise at all.”
The next Sunday the senior deacon and her family didn’t come to church. The following Sunday right before my sermon stood up and walked to the front of the church. I was expecting to be relived of my duties, but God had another plan. Instead of calling for a vote to fire me, she said, “Last Sunday we worshiped at Rev. Elliot’s Church (Our church was a daughter church of his) and he is preaching the same message our pastor is preaching so you better listen to him.”
What a relief! Soon after that trying day the Lord brought a host of disabled men and women and their caretakers to the church and we grew in one week by 40 percent. A few weeks later the Lord told me to submit my Navy active duty application. I had no idea that I’d be on active duty just a few months because the chaplain of the USS Texas would have an accident. Leaving the church was a sad and glad time for Sally and me….Because my call to ministry was to be an active duty Navy Chaplain.